This case concerns a landlord allowing a tenant to retain a key to the property after the check-out report had been carried out, for the purposes of providing the tenant with an opportunity to return to the property to complete works highlighted in a check-out report.
The landlord claimed for cleaning and redecoration.
The evidence showed that following the check-out report the landlord agreed for the tenant to retain a key in order to complete works identified in the check-out report to return the cleanliness and décor of the property to its pre-tenancy condition.
The tenant stated that his cleaners returned, and that redecoration took place and disputes the claims.
No further inspection report of the property was undertaken after the tenant had completed the remedial cleaning and redecoration works. Without any independent evidence to show the cleanliness and condition of the décor after the tenant had returned to the property, the adjudicator was unable to consider any award.
The onus is on the landlord to prove their claim. In the absence of evidence to show that either cleaning omissions were still present or redecoration works were either not carried out or carried out to a poor standard, after the tenants return to the property, the adjudicator was not able to determine whether some all or any of the further cleaning required had been satisfactorily completed or whether redecoration had been adequately carried out.
Had there been evidence to show that a further inspection of the property had been carried out immediately after the tenant had completed the remedial works, the adjudicator might have been able to consider whether such attempts by the tenant had been satisfactorily completed to avoid any claim against the tenant’s deposit, or whether a claim was still justified.
So, what are the key points here?
In deciding any claim against a deposit for issues such as cleaning or damage, TDS takes the view that all parties to a dispute are entitled to rely upon properly completed and reasonably detailed check-in and check-out reports as key documents recording the condition of the property at the beginning and end of the tenancy.
Best practice is not to allow a tenant to either retain a key to the property or to return to the property once the tenancy has ended.
Should an agent/landlord choose to allow a tenant to return to the property to carry out remedial works, a further inspection of the property should be undertaken to establish the cleanliness and condition of the property after such return visit. It is important also to establish an agreement as to the return of the keys.
For tenants, a landlord is not obliged to allow you to return to the property after tenancy end. It is your responsibility to ensure that the property is ready to be returned, to include all cleaning and redecoration works required, for the end of the tenancy at check-out.
* Sandy Bastin is head of adjudication services at TDS